Tuesday, January 27, 2015


L has his first penance on Saturday.  Unfortunately I'm going to miss it because I'll be with D down in a soccer tournament in Fayetteville, NC.  His dad can easily cover it and it's really not a huge sacrament in the pomp and circumstance kind of way.  I think I brought both A and D by myself because K had to coach. 

Anyway, L and I have had a few conversations about what sins he might be able to confess.  Frankly, he's more worried about remembering the big prayer he's supposed to say afterward. 

"Is it a sin if it was an accident?" he asked the other day.  I thought about this and realized quickly that to him sins really have nothing to do with God, but with whether or not I'm gonna get mad or one of his brothers.

"Well, buddy, if you really didn't mean to do something bad or hurt somebody or their feelings it's really not a sin."

"M says I should just make some up but that doesn't seem right to me."  M explained one time that if she can't think of anything to confess she just makes up a good sin to get more bang for her buck.  After having a good laugh, I tried to talk to her about how that's not quite how it works.

L does have a point.  If you aren't sorry for what you've done (or not done in M's case) do you get the forgiveness part?


In our house when the kids were little (and sometimes on really bad days around here now) infractions throughout the day usually ended up with the offender in time out.  This location is the couch in the living room, which is usually a good physical distance away from usual play areas and a good quiet spot for a mental refresh.  L has been known to have his entire body off the couch with one hand on it in order to stick with the letter of law, but let me know he is not happy with being in time out.  He has also been one that wasn't allowed to get off the couch till he calmed down, but in defiance would refuse to get off once he stopped screaming.

The usual process was time out for a few minutes, calm down, and then come to me or the person on the wrong end of the altercation to say sorry.  When they were all really little (ages 2-4) this was a simple process.  The "I'm sorrys" came easily and a quick hug or high five with a brother restored calm and order to the house...at least until another lego was stolen or ball bounced off a brother's head.

As they've gotten older the request for forgiveness is a lot harder to give and often the quick forgiveness (and certainly the hug or high five) is often begrudgingly given.  Even this morning as the big boys were wrestling and the bigger one smashed the little one's head into the carpet, A was forced to say sorry and D refused to accept it.

When did the forgiveness chit get so costly on both sides and why?  Is it because they have started to intuitively understand the value in their more complicated sibling relationship?  E and M certainly hold their forgiveness hands closer and play that card with calculated strategies.  Saying sorry can be hard and I get that.  I try to model good behavior by saying I'm sorry when I've lost my temper or laid blame on someone when they were simply innocent bystanders.  They usually forgive me quicker than their siblings and a hug after I'm sorry usually goes a long way into reestablishing equilibrium.


I have some forgiving to do.  I know that I do.

It's just hard.  Really hard.

I'm still hurting and am not sure the person who needs to be forgiven understands how much I've been hurt or am still hurting.  I wonder sometimes if they even care or are truly sorry.

My resistance to forgive is also because I feel like the other person is "getting away" with something and hasn't really done their penance.  Immature I know on my part, but if we're being honest here I know in my heart that's part of the problem.  And speaking of penance, I think I secretly want some grand gesture on their part to acknowledge their actions or even in simple terms "ask" for my forgiveness.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to accept it.  Yes, I do acknowledge that my hurt is a lot more complicated than the kids' "D won't stop touching my butt" kind of annoyance, but why do I expect them to give and receive forgiveness if I'm having such a hard time doing that in my relationships?

Does forgiveness work the same if the other person doesn't ask for it?  Will I feel the same?  I'm not even sure how to cross over that forgiveness Rubicon in my heart without the other person even acknowledging it.  For all concerned, it's the right thing to do and intellectually I know that.

My heart is war weary and my daily focus is on caring for the kids and keeping this family afloat.  The pain lingers below the surface and often gets tampered down with all the demands of my day.  I know that letting it go will make all the other stuff easier to handle.

I want to be the bigger person and forgive.  Those pictures with the pithy statements of the power of forgiveness that people post on Facebook make it seem so easy.  A simple "I forgive you!" tied up in a bow with a picture of a cute puppy.

I've got some forgiving to do.  I honestly don't know how to do it.  In this case, a quick hug and or a high five won't cut it.  Maybe I need a few minutes (hours) in time out to figure it all out.


  1. Forgiveness is hard. I ponder it frequently. My daughter and I had an interesting discussion about the morality of forgiving people that maybe you don't have a right to forgive because you are not the wronged party. I struggle with the idea of conflating forgiveness with letting go and don't know if they are the same. Nice to hear someone else struggling with similar ideas--thank you for this post.

  2. Thanks for sharing this post. It's hard, finding that balance between processing, letting go, and forgiving. Make sure you are being forgiving of yourself - you are managing quite a weight.

  3. It is an interesting topic - forgiveness. And so much easier when it's little children. In our house, sorry isn't enough. Sometimes the person who was wronged isn't ready to hear the sorry. We always ask the child saying sorry to ask his/her sibling what they can do to make the other feel better. Sometimes, it's nothing except time.

    Time. It numbs the grief we feel when we lose our loved ones. It helps ease the pain we've felt when we're wronged. It helps us forgive ourselves and others. It gives us perspective. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a little time.

  4. I just found these words and thought of you...

    "Someday we'll forget the hurt, the reason we cried and the one who brought
    the pain. We will finally realize that the secret of being free is not
    revenge but letting things unfold in their own way and own time.

    After all, what matters is not the first, but the last chapter of our lives
    which shows how well we run the race.

    So smile, laugh, forgive, believe and love all over again."

    -Jalaluddin Rumi

  5. Thank you for a thoughtful post. I don't have much to say, but echo the commenter above who said remember to be forgiving of yourself. xo Other than that never hurts to remember that we are all flawed mortals.

  6. I go through this with my mom, and I do find it hard to really forgive someone who hasn't even acknowledge her transgressions. I've aimed for something closer to 'letting it go' in the interest of self-preservation, but I think that's only a partial healing. I don't know why it's so hard; I can only identify. Great post!

  7. Forgiving is hard. I keep thinking that I've forgiven people, and then some resentment pops up and I realize that I hadn't really forgiven them at all, but rather just tabled my complaint, which is not the same thing at all. It's a struggle.

  8. Peg, I post those pictures on Facebook sometimes not because it's so easy, but because it's SO SO SO hard I need extra help and reminders.